Sunday, January 22, 2012

testing our self sufficiency skills

This last week has had it's share of highs and lows for us, we lost our power, phone, and running water for 3 days, and the snow came down hard for 5 days straight.  Needless to say we got to test our skills.  In my last post we were still in the fun part of the snowstorm, we had cozy showers and running water, laundry and a phone line, hot water and power.  Before the lights even began to flicker we had already begun to gather water in vessels and lay out the candles on the table, just in case.  Wednesday around noon the power went out, and the snow continued to fall hard.  It was kind of fun the first day and night with no power, then morning came and another day, and another day, and the snow continued to fall.   We had the phone line for the first day, and then that went dead for 2 days.  We chained up the truck to get into town, and all through town it was compact snow and ice, our school district was closed all week, and the kids had fun playing and reading.  I stayed busy with the animals, and cooking and cleaning, and continued to milk Zolena through it all.  We had 4 kettles on the wood stove to heat water for washing and cooking with, some had melted snow and some water was pulled up from the hand dug well.

If you saw the weather for Seattle we're very similar only we're about 50 miles NE  in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, our temperatures are often 10 or 15 degrees colder because we're 20 miles inland from the Puget Sound, and the Pacific Ocean.  Just down the coast where my Mom and Dad live in Coos Bay, Oregon, they're so near the ocean it rarely freezes or snows and the snow almost never sticks to the ground, it melts right away.  Here now a week later and we still have snow on the ground, it has warmed up, but the driving is still slippery.  I don't like to drive in icy snow, so I've been happily home-bound all week, we've had plenty of good food and so have the animals.  Plus I've been getting alot of great exercise hauling warm water heated on the stove to everyone. 

There is a whole new appreciation for a wood burning stove when it's you're sole heat source (which ours always has been) and your main source to cook on, and heat water with for washing dishes.  It also becomes the central focus in the evenings with candles around for light when there's no power.  Even with a well the water doesn't flow from the sink without the electric pump, the toilet doesn't flush unless it's refilled in the back, and the shower doesn't work at all.   Luckily for me, I took a shower right before the power went out for those 3 days. 

I had a whole list of what I was going to do everyday this last week, and I pretty much had to put it on hold and just go into survival mode, tend the animals, chop wood, carry water,  make meals, and clean.  The beauty of the snow in mid January is nice,  then we had too much snow, almost 2 feet, and then freezing rain, and then the cover to my  chicken aviary was near collapsing and the pen for Stormy and Cowboy needed to have the snow removed daily.  I was outside getting snow off areas that could collapse, the snow became hard to walk in, and we all got a little cabin fever.  I also had the duty of shaking off all our edibles and ornamentals around the garden and yard,  making sure branches stayed intact.  When the rain finally came and it began to warm up, we  all cheered, now today it's still melting and the wind is gusting with some high winds around 50 miles per hour, our winter weather is finally here.

Nearing the end of the 3 days we had some renewed discussions on independence from the power company and have a real desire to see our windmill operational, we've had one for years, and just need a high tower, a real high tower to get above the tree line.  We talked about ways to build the tower and the batteries we'll need to store the power, along with many of the nuts and bolts of actually making it a reality.  Back in the late 70's, my  husband lived out here for 10 years with no power, phone or running water, that was back in the day when many back to landers started out just the same way. 

Still today you could start out and buy or rent land, build a small cabin or modular home,  put in a wood stove and small kitchen and live.  It's amazing how simple people lived for thousands of years and how far we've come in such a short time.  How many of us could survive without power for a month, or two, or more?  I'm sure we all could if we had to, but wouldn't it be a little nicer with heat and a way to cook, and a piece of land to grow food.  Our whole electrical grid is so fragile, the possibility of it going out for awhile is very real.


Olivia said...

I can relate to a lot of your post! We too live at the foothills of the cascades and experienced the snow, ice & wind! We were without power for only two days but they were long ones! Thankfully we have a cozy woodstove for heat, a generator and a gas cooktop so we were comfortable! I haven't been so happy about rain in a long time! Happily it has melted the snow away with just a little trace to remember it by!

Jewel said...

Our snow is still on the ground, it's slowly going away, but walking around the farm is slippery. A woodstove is a wonderful thing, we still need a generator, mainly for our big freezer. Thanks Olivia for visiting and commenting.